Patrick Drahi, Altice telecom group's majority shareholder, was in New York Thursday, meeting with top Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) executives, including CEO Rob Marcus, to discuss a possible cash-and-stock buyout of the No. 2 cable operator in the U.S.
Word of the meeting, first reported by The Wall Street Journal, comes as FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler reportedly gave a "it's-probably-OK" sign to Charter Communications (NASDAQ: CHTR) to continue its own chase of TWC.
The talks culminate a furiously busy week for Luxembourg-based Altice and the mogul behind this empire, Drahi. On Wednesday, Altice SA announced a $9.1 billion deal to secure a 70 percent stake in St. Louis-based mid-sized MSO Suddenlink Communications.
The emergence of Altice establishes a surprise bidding war for TWC, which looked destined to fall into the now-friendly hands of Charter following Comcast's (NASDAQ: CMCSA) decision in April to walk away from its proposed $45 billion TWC purchase.
Charter remains in its own talks with TWC, with a possible purchase price eclipsing $170 a share. TWC currently has a market value of around $47 billion.
The WSJ also reported Friday that Wheeler called top executives at TWC and Charter, as well as several other cable companies, and assured that them just because the FCC rejected Comcast's TWC plans doesn't mean the agency is against telecom dealmaking in general.
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